Oneida advanced to the District 3-A championship for a fifth consecutive season on Tuesday with a 3-0 win over Rockwood.
In the district’s No. 2 vs. No. 3 semifinal, the Lady Indians defeated the Tigers by a score that was identical to the teams’ regular season meeting two weeks ago.
Alexea Jones scored two goals — just as she did in the first meeting with Rockwood — and Aliyah Douglas added a third, as Oneida jumped out to a 2-0 halftime lead before adding an insurance goal in the second half.
The last time the two teams met, they played to a scoreless halftime tie, before Oneida found its offense in the second half. This time, the Lady Indians left little doubt about the outcome for a shorter period of time, grabbing the early lead.
“I think things got off the way we wanted,” Oneida coach Phil Newport said. “We spent a good deal of the first half on their side of the pitch and felt our offense dictated a lot of energy expended by their defensive keepers. They attempted to man mark our forwards and Alexea took advantage of the defense dropping too deep. I have no idea how she got the first one in but it was a beautiful shot she had to curve in.”
Eventually, Oneida’s forwards were able to wear down Rockwood’s fullbacks, and the Lady Indians took control of the game with penetrating runs that the Tigers struggled to contain.
“Aliyah had a lights out break-away for her score in the second half,” Newport said. “I was happy the way we dominated possession because it kept their offense from really gaining any counter attacks. Ali Smith, Jailyn Anderson and Kenlee Duncan kept things closed off in the back end and Ayla Sims made the plays she was supposed to.
“I thought our seniors (Caroline Keeton, Savana Shepard and Jaden Terry) played exceptionally well and stepped up in this game,” Newport added.
Oneida will travel to Cumberland Gap on Thursday for the district championship game. The Panthers mercy-ruled Oliver Springs in Tuesday’s other semifinal, winning 9-0.
Cumberland Gap defeated Oneida earlier in the season, 6-3, and won last year’s district championship game over the Lady Indians by a 3-0 final before winning again in the Region 2-A championship game by a 5-1 final.
While the Panthers have won their last four against Oneida, the Lady Indians took four in a row over Cumberland Gap before that, including the district and region championships in 2019, and the district championship in 2018.
“We got to take everyone out at the 10-minute mark so as to stay a little fresh for Thursday and keep the injury bug away,” Newport said. “We go to Cumberland Gap in pretty good shape from a health standpoint. We will need Rory (Blevins) back on Thursday simply because she has been there all year.”